Grand Avenue Masks

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Windows to the Soul

Many Characters in the novel Grand Avenue, by Greg Sarris, are wearing masks. Masks that conceal themselves and their culture in an attempt to fit into the world that has enveloped their history and stifled their heritage. The key to these masks is the eyes. The eyes of the characters in the novel tell stories. The despair

of the Native Americans is first shown in The Magic Pony when Jasmine, the voice of the story, describes her Aunt Faye’s eyes. “Her eyes looked dark and motionless, like she was seeing something she didn’t want to see and couldn’t look away from” (p.4)

Faye, like many inhabitants of the novel, seems helplessly focused on the sordid history of her family and the poison that seems to infect their very souls. She is obsessed to the point of madness and this poison is best described by Jasmine when she comes upon Faye the morning of Faye’s decision to create order out of the chaos that has been her life. “I realized talking about it was useless when I saw her eyes. The fearful person I had seen behind her bright eyes the

past few weeks had come out now; she was that person.
She had told stories to save herself - now she was telling them to excuse herself. Hatred. Jealousy. Anger. Evil. All I had seen in my mother’s and my aunt’s eyes at different times were here in Faye’s.” (p. 23-24)

After doing her best to fight the poison that curses her family, she finally succumbs. Jasmine describes her cousin Ruby’s eyes as being “a million miles away” (p.7). But when Ruby’s mind is set on saving the pony, her determination comes shining brightly through. “Her eyes were like a pair of headlights on the highway, staring straight ahead, zooming past me.” (p.18)

Ruby has found a purpose, a cause. All of her will is focused on achieving this goal. For her,...
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